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15 Minutes of Peace

Forget Fame. Most of the time, all I need is 15 minutes of peace.

Updated: 2018-02-14T15:46:06.321-07:00


Hillary is Out


Me: (looking at the NYTimes online) Guess what you guys?

Girls: What?

Me: Hillary is out.

Girls: Really? Then who won?

Me: Well, now it’s between Obama and McCain.

J: (excited, like she knows "the answer") Oh! okay! then I’m going to vote for Obama.

O: Yeah. Me too!

J: Because Daddy says that if Hillary doesn’t win, then we should vote for Obama. Not McCain.

Me: Yeah?

J: Yeah, because McCain is bad.

Me: Really?

J: Yeah, because he says we should use guns and stuff.

Me: He does, huh?

J: Yep. He’s bad.

Girls: We’re going to vote for Obama.

Me: Okay, me too.

Once Upon a Time, by O


O narrated this story to me and asked me to type it. And I did. Word for word.

Once upon a time, there was a little cottage. And a little girl lived in it. She was three. And one day when she woke up in the morning, her mother said, “Time for breakfast Little One. We’re having Cream of Wheat today.” The little girl said, “whoo hoo” because the little girl, of course, loved Cream of Wheat.

When the little girl was eating breakfast, she heard a knock on the door. She wondered if it was her father. Her father had been away for a long time in Chicago. Her mother said, “I think that’s Dad. Let’s go see.” So the little girl went.

When they opened the door, surprisingly they saw that it was Dad. When they saw that it was Dad, the little girl said, “Hello, Daddy!” and gave him a big hug. Her dad said, “I missed you.” And the little girl said, “I missed you too.”

So her father was very happy and she was happy too. And they lived happily ever after.

The End.

A Mom's Job Just Ain't for the Faint of Heart


So it seems like all I talk about anymore is poop.

Sigh. Such is the wonder that is my life. Oh, the treasure. Oh, the joy.

So last night I had agreed to babysit a friend's two children overnight. On a school night. Yeah. I'm nice like that. She's in Nepal for 5 weeks helping out in a little health care clinic. She and some colleagues wrote a grant and it was approved. Now she's working on an awesome project and getting nursing school credit for it too.

And once again, the stay-at-home mom friends come to the rescue. Those of us who are not out saving the world. Or rather, those of us who are saving the world one poopy mess at a time. I mean, does anyone out there realize how much us stay-at-home moms contribute to the GNP? I digress. That's gotta be a post for another time.

Anyhoo. I agreed, because her husband works nights, to take her kids a few times overnight while she's away. Other friends are pitching in too.

So last night as I'm yelling at the kids to get their pjs on, I smell something awful. Since I have two dogs, whenever I smell something like that smell, I naturally assume it's them. I searched high and low for dog poop and couldn't find any. Then I entered my bathroom and saw poop in the toilet, a poop smear going across the toilet seat, and a lovely amount of poop smeared all over the rug in front of the toilet.

I immediately started screaming. "Oh my God, what is this?!?!"

The kids, all four of them, the ones who had repeatedly ignored me whenever I made a request for their attention earlier in the evening, all ran to me. And then their mouths gaped open as they stared at the mess.

It was awful. We're not talking a couple of smears here. We're talking a whole turd's worth of poop "fell" out of the toilet and was smeared into the rug below. Eeewww.

After much cajoling and promising not to beat the offender, one child (not my own) admitted that he had indeed pooped in the toilet. And had "forgotten" to flush. But he swore up and down, with his huge sweet brown eyes that when he left the room all of the poop was still in the toilet.


One child then suggested that "the dog did it." Yeah, just like the time the dog ate my homework. This time, the dog ate a child's piece of poop? Dragged it out of the toilet and smeared it on my rug?

I'm not buying this story. Let me tell you why.

First of all, my kids never flush the toilet. It's like they believe they'll get sucked down into it if they do. And they always leave the lid up.

I know. It's disgusting.

And our dogs have never, not ever, once dragged poop out of the toilet.

I mean, I know dogs can be gross. I'm not naive. Our old dog used to steal poop out of the cat litter box and eat it. But our current dogs have been with us for almost 3 years and have never dragged poop out of the toilet. I wouldn't put it past them, but since we don't have cats anymore, I have no idea if they'd steal poop from a cat box. All I know is that they've never dragged kid poop out of the toilet.

But did they do it last night? If the children are to be believed, they did.

And if they didn't, then what exactly happened?


All I can say is thank God for Clorox wipes and Target's cheap prices for rugs.

Snow on May 23rd


This is the not so nice thing about where we live---snow.

Today we woke up to snow on May 23rd.

May!! Twenty-third!

On the way into school this morning, in my car occupied by 4 children, I hear the following conversation.

P: I wish I was a Snow Princess.

J: I wish I was a Snow Princess too.

P: You can't be a Snow Princess. I'm already the Snow Princess.

J: You can have more than one Snow Princess.

O: I wish I was a Snow Queen.

P: Okay, you can be the Snow Queen. J and I will be Snow Princesses. J, you have to be the younger one.

J: No. We have to be the same age. Otherwise, it isn't fair.

P: Okay. We'll be twin snow princesses.

O: G, you can be the Snow King.

G: No! I want to be Snow.

O: And I'm the Queen. The Queen says we don't have to go to school today!

Mom: Nice try. Sorry.

I Love James Taylor


Why is it so hard sometimes to shower the people you love with love? Hmm....

One morning while children sit at the breakfast bar doing nothing but waiting to receive the delicious and nutritious breakfast that Mom prepares. And serves to them. With joy. And then Mom proceeds to make and pack their delicious and nutritious lunches for school.

Mom: (singing) Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel....

Kid 1: Mom!

Mom: What? (then back to singing) Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel. Things are gonna work out fine if you only will....

Kid 2: Mom! Stop it!

Mom: Stop what? What am I doing? (singing again) Things are gonna work out better if you only will....

Kid 1 and 2 at the same time: Stop singing!

Kid 1: Yeah, Mom. (sigh, eye roll) It's annoying!

A Few Days Off


While I'll miss him tremendously, I'm very much enjoying my few days off. You see, my hubby, my delightful husband, is in San Francisco this week at a conference and in his absence, I get a few days off. It's not that he puts any pressure on me. It's just that he works so hard---to the tune of 90+ hours per week---it's hard not to work hard around him.

You see, I am the perfect wife. The perfect mother too. Of course I am. The laundry is always done. The dishes are always done. Dinner is always on the table at just the right time. The beds are always made. The kids are always to bed on-time having read books, taken a bath, and brushed their teeth.

Seriously. Ask my friends.

But man, do I ever need the occasional day off. Two days? Glorious. Three? Fabulous. And four, well, I'll think I've died and gone to heaven.

So last night, as my hubby flew to SFC, I decided to let the dishes rot in the sink. I even left them to smolder while I watched the latest episode of The Office (on, my recent discovery). And then today, no laundry. Not a single load. Usually, I do a load a day, at least, just to keep caught up. But today, none. And the breakfast dishes sat in the sink the whole day. While I dined out for lunch with a friend and skimmed through books at a bookstore.

I just may even let the dinner dishes rot again tonight. And instead will shower and settle in for a few chapters of Water for Elephants. Maybe even with a glass of wine.

Yeah. I think I like this.

Why Can't They Just Flush the Toliets?


I'm on the phone with my bff today and in the middle of a very important (ahem) conversation, I notice the toilet in the powder room. Unflushed. Again. Poop overwhelms said toilet, along with what looks like several bouts of pee and toilet paper.

"Goddamn it! Oh, sorry to interrupt our conversation but dang it! I just noticed the toliet in the powder room was once again not flushed. It's sickening. There's poop practically falling out of the thing."

"Oh, don't you hate that?"

"Dang kids. Oh wait! Did I tell you this already? Here's yet another example of my exemplary parenting. So the other day, I'm in a pissy kind of mood. Yeah, yeah, maybe PMS, whatever. I walk into the girls' bathroom and notice the toilet unflushed. With the lid up. It looked like at least one poop had taken place followed or proceeded by multiple pees. It was disgusting. So in my wonderfully foul mood, I yell at the kids---"Dammit, you guys have to flush the toilet! This is soooo gross! Do you guys even get how gross this is? it's like...okay...from now on, I think I'll start pooping in a bucket. Yep, a bucket! and then I'll leave it on the floor in your bedroom. What do you think about that?!?!"

See, I am the perfect parent.

Freakin' Freaky


On Friday, O and I went cross-country skiing with her entire 2nd grade class. It was a blast. The kids skied fabulously, and O and I had some wonderful quality time together.

Take this conversation, for example---

O: (struggling to get back up after a fall) Oh, this freakin' ski!

Me: O, you can't use that word.

O: What word?

Me: Freakin'.

O: Why?

Me: Well, because it's a bad word, or rather, it means a bad word.

O: I don't get it. I hear you say "freakin'."

Me: No. I say "freaking," like "I'm freaking out over here."

O: What's the difference?

Me: Well, it's okay to say "freaking out" but it's not okay to say "freakin' ski."

O: Why? What's the bad word that freakin' means?

Me: Oh, you know. That other bad "f" word.

O: What word?

Me: Oh, let's just please forget we had this conversation!

Later, that very same day, I overhear my children have this lovely conversation---

J: Oh, this freakin' pillow!

O: You can't say that.

J: Say what?

O: You can't say "freakin'." Mom said so.

J: Why?

O: Because it means a bad "f" word.

J: What does it mean?

O: I don't know. I think it means "friggin'." And you're not allowed to say "friggin'" either.

Oh my stars! I wanted to hide in the closet!

Here's the Great Thing About Where We Live


Yes, I complain about the snow. And the cold. And the huge sweaters and coats and jackets and hats and gloves. And yes, I hate dressing and undressing my children from snow pants and boots, both of which are usually very muddy. And I'm sick of kids with runny noses and wet dog prints on my shiny floors.

But here's the great thing about where we live.
We can go from here......
(image) to here in about 45 minutes.
(image) And we can have fun in the winter wonderland doing things like this...
(image) and this....we finally made it to the yurt....(image) But when we're really sick of the snow, we can go here in about 2 hours.....

It's a tough life. But somebody's gotta do it.

The Injury


Have you ever seen the movie Fargo? Remember the bloody scene in the snow? Well, yesterday, we came home to our backyard snow looking like that scene in Fargo. There was blood everywhere. Lots and lots of blood.Okay, maybe it wasn't quite as bad as that scene in the movie. Oh, and it was dog blood.Here's what happened----The girls and I came home later than normal because I had a meeting and they stayed in the aftercare program at their school for the first time ever. When we are not home, we confine the dogs to the laundry room which has a dog-door leading to our fenced backyard. The dog, the injured one, was nursing his wound in the snow when we found him.I checked him out and found that he had cut his paw. It was deep, very deep. But it was clean and straight. Not at all jagged.I decided not to do my usual thing---which is to panic---and instead, I remained calm, wrapped his paw in bandages made from torn old towels, and waited for my husband to come home and give his opinion on whether or not we needed to take him to the vet.In the meantime, I was trying to get the dog into the laundry room so I could check him out and to help contain the blood to the linoleum flooring of the laundry room.My girls had other "plans." They twice opened the door that leads to the rest of the house just in time for the dog to notice and run into the house trying to escape from my examination. On his first escape, this led to dog blood on the carpet in my dining room, and on the second escape, led to dog blood going up the carpeted stairs to the room the dog perceives as his den, which also happens to be my closet.Amongst the chaos, I still managed to remain calm. I guess there's a big difference between your child bleeding profusely and your dog bleeding profusely because had this been one of my children, I would have definitely been panicking by now.And then J accidentally slammed her finger in the door, right at the same time that I was trying to corral the dog, and she started screaming. I got her some ice but then must have said something like, "Here, honey, you hold it. I've got to get the dog into the laundry room," because she then said, between sobs, "Mommy, do you care more about the dog's boo-boo than mine?"Oh my poor baby!"Of course not," I said soothingly. "I care much more about yours, honey. Are you okay?"Later, I realized she had asked me the much easier question of dog versus child. Had she asked me the much more difficult question of child versus blood-stained carpeting, I may have paused and in my hesitation may have mistakenly given the impression that I cared more about the mess than about her poor wounded fingers. Ahem.Finally, my husband arrived and was able to examine the dog."Well, I'm not really sure about dogs, but if this was a human, he'd need a lot of stitches," he said.So, being of the pioneer spirit, and uhm, wanting to save ourselves the $150 that the vet would have surely charged us for arriving after-hours, we sutured the beast ourselves.We put down a few towels. Then attached a bright shop light to shine directly on our surgical "table." I held down the dog while D stitched him up. During the procedure, I whispered sweet nothings into the dog's ear like, "It's okay," and, "Good dog," and I think it was the nicest I've ever been to this poor dog. D numbed his foot with an injection of lidocaine, I cut off the fur around the wound, and then D cleaned the site and stitched him up. Six stitches. Then we applied antibacterial cream, wrapped it in gauze, and stuck duct-tape over the whole thing.It was awesome. We were like rock stars. Pioneer rock stars. Truly, I wished I'd had a camera.Everyone was calm. The situation was under control. The dog was seemingly pain free for the time being, and we saved ourselves the dough we would have had to pay the vet had[...]

I Love My Kids


When I was a kid, I was allowed to eat anything and everything. I grew up on Twinkies, HoHos, Fruit Loops, Snack Pack puddings, fruit cocktail in syrup, Strawberry Quik, Kool-aid, Hi-C, you name it, I was allowed to eat and drink it.

Not just allowed, I was encouraged to eat it. We had everything in our cupboards. We were the envy of the town. We had Suzi Q's, Frosted Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, Cheetos, Fritos, and Hostess Cupcakes.

That's right, my friends, we were the envy of the town.

My kids? They are seriously deprived. Every single food item I mentioned above, they have never tried.


So last week, in another one of my diet-deprived moods, I started talking with my girls about the things I had when I was a kid that they have never tried.

And I promised to buy them a Twinkie so they could try one. They were thrilled. On several occasions since then, they have asked me, "What was the name of that food you ate when you were a kid?"

"Twinkie," I told them.

They were intrigued. They wanted to taste this elusive treat that only I had had the privilege of tasting.

So, yesterday, I bought them some Twinkies. Just a two pack. I was drooling just looking at them.

Oooh, they used to be my favorite. But I haven't had one in, oh, about 25 years. I had visions of my girls loving me forever since I allowed them to share in this unbelievable treat.

And guess what?

They didn't like them.

I mean, they didn't gag or anything while eating them (like O does when we make her eat vegetables she doesn't like), but they didn't even want to finish them.

Can you imagine?

They didn't even want to finish a Twinkie?

A Twinkie is not that big afterall. I could eat one in about, oh, one bite.

But no. They were not that interested.


Does this mean all that healthy food I've been exposing them to, because, let's face it, half the time they don't eat it, does this mean that all the food I've been preparing for them, all the meals I've been presenting to them, does this mean all this has paid off? Does this mean that they actually prefer "real food" to food that's been shelf-lifed to last through a nuclear holocaust?

Oh my stars.

I love my kids.

And I must be doing something right.

Pat on the back. Sigh of relief.



Here are the books and magazines that are currently on my nightstand----

1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell
3. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
4. Cooking Light, March 2008--cover: Fabulous, Fudgy Mint Brownies
5. Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2008---cover story: Winter Comfort [Foods]
6. Sunset, Feb 2008---cover story: Slow-cooked Comfort

Okay, there's a couple more items (the Boden Spring 2008 catalog, Summer People by Brian Groh) but are you noticing a trend here?

Yep, you can even tell from my nightstand that I'm on a diet.


You Know You're On A Diet When....


So I'm at the gym. I'm being good. I'm on the elliptical machine and I'm staring at CNN on the TV. Yep, that's right. Being double good---working out AND watching the news.

But then my eyes wander over to another TV, about two TVs away, where the Today Show has been playing and see a vision. A vision so lovely it stops me in my tracks.

It's a closeup of a warm, inviting-looking beef stew. I see chopped pieces of juicy beef. Bright green peas, some potatoes, carrots, and a delicious sauce. Just like your grandma used to make.

Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm. The vision is melting in my mouth. I start day-dreaming about what I'm going to have for lunch. I wonder if I have any beef at home? Could I make something like this?

I start to salivate.

And then I see it. The slogan for a dog food company.

That's right, dog food.

I'm drooling over dog food over here people. I need help!

Open Marriage


Does this even happen anymore? Does anyone believe in this crazy practice today?

I thought open marriages died out at the same time as wide collars, polyester pants and sideburns. But I guess not.

Earlier this week, I found out that my friend, the one who I suspected of having an affair, is still having her affair, albeit at a greater distance, since he moved to a city far from her. But she's been taking a lot of trips. Trips by herself. Trips that land her in the very near vicinity of the man she's been sleeping with. The man her husband apparently doesn't know she's sleeping with.

I also found out to my shock and dismay, that the married man she is sleeping with is practicing the deplorable ritual of open marriage.

That's right, folks. Open Marriage.

Or at least I found out that he and his wife used to practice this. Whether the wife knows about it at this time is unknown. But she's been comfortable with it in the past.

So when another friend and I questioned over and over, "How does [the wife] not know?" We were asking the wrong question. Oh, she knows alright. She's just okay with it.

Can you even imagine?

Our Barnes and Noble Days


On Tuesdays, I have a cleaning lady come to the house. It's best if the girls and I are not around while she's there. We just get in the way, and worse, I feel like I should be helping her.

A bit of guilt?

So to relieve myself of such feelings, we came up with a wonderful plan. We spend the time at Barnes and Noble. I love this idea because it also relieves two other guilts of mine---not spending enough quality time with my girls, and not spending enough time reading.

So on Tuesdays, J and I pick up O from school and head straight to Barnes and Noble. There, we each pick out a new book, and sit in the cafe. We drink tea, we share a treat, and we read to each other from our new books.

Lately, my girls have been obsessed with the American Girl series books. Each week is just enough time to need the next book in the series, so we pick out a book and devour the words, and pictures, while we nosh. The girls also take interest in what I'm reading and ponder what they might read when they are grown women. Sharing this time together, just the three of us, has become our tradition.

And we love our Barnes and Noble Days.

Super Tuesday


I always cry on election day. There's just something about it. Something about the whole country coming together on the same day to do something positive for our nation. I cry about being a part of something bigger than myself. Something that requires a collective.

And then there's the fact that we even have the right to vote. We are lucky. Not everyone has this right. People die for this right and sadly, many take it for granted.

I remember the time that we, meaning the people of the State of Illinois, elected the first African-American female senator, Carol Moseley-Braun. I was driving from Chicago to Michigan that day, having already voted earlier in the day, when they announced the results. I was alone in my car, but still, I cheered. Then I cried. It was a momentous occasion.

Today, we could do something similar. Today, people all over the country are coming together to vote for who they want to be on the general election ballot in November.

Will we, for the first time, vote for a woman to be the Democratic nominee for president? Will we, for the first time, vote for an African-American to be the Democratic nominee for president? I am praying that we do. This is an incredible opportunity. It is an incredible time in the history of our country.

Yes, I voted and I cried. And yes, I was humbled by the experience.

The Yurt


(image) Today we had a perfect winter day activity planned. We were supposed to join a good friend and her daughters, with 11 girls in total, to celebrate her daughter's 8th birthday. Her plan was a wonderful one. We were to all slap on either cross-country skis or snow shoes and hike/ski one beautiful mile into the woods to a good old- fashioned yurt. There, we would have a birthday party. On our backs and on sleds we would have pulled and carried presents, hot cocoa, a birthday cake, and lots of yummy snacks. After we had a wonderful time of opening gifts, eating cake, and toasting our good fortune with hot cocoa, we would again don our gear and hike/ski the mile back.

It was to be a glorious, old-fashioned, beautiful winter holiday. A kind of day like our dear blogger friend Heidi often has in the snowy wonderfulness of Norway, albeit much shorter than her typical adventure.

But alas, our fun was cancelled. Cancelled due to the unbelievably enormous storm we are experiencing at the moment. 50 mile an hour winds, heavy snow downpour---that kind of storm. The kind of blowing snow that makes a trek through the woods with 11 kids and loads of gear on your back and sleds not much fun, not to mention the potential dangers involved in driving there in the first place.

Sigh. Maybe next weekend.

5 Things Meme


Crystal over at My Family Gossip tagged me for a meme. I am to list 5 material things that I want and 5 spiritual/meaningful things that I want.

Five Material Things---
1. To complete the renovation of our family room. Lack of money or rather the amount of money we're paying out to Uncle Sam soon, has delayed our project. Eventually, it will be painted, new blinds will arrive, built-in bookcases will be installed, and I will have a new desk. We do already have the new sofa and chair and they are wonderful!

2. To fix the bumper on my car. It's the leftover from my accident. The insurance company has given us a check, it's just a matter of getting it into the body shop and I haven't gotten around to doing it yet. I drive too much to be without my car for even a day!

3. To drop the 19 pounds I feel I need to lose. Read about my trials and tribulations, and those of others, over at Life on 20 Points a Day.

Honestly, I can't really think of anything else. I do not want for much. I guess we are pretty lucky.

Five Meaningful Things---
1. A new job for my hubby. He's combing the county for a new gig. He is leaving no stone unturned. But we are hoping for a lot---a job with the same or better money, same or better benefits, and considerably less hours. Yes, indeed, we want it all.

2. Health and happiness for my whole family. Sounds corny, yes, but I swear that everytime I blow out birthday candles or throw a penny into a fountain, this is what I wish for.

3. Strong, sensitive, compassionate, generous, loving, happy, and healthy children. More than anything in the universe I want my girls to grow up with these traits.

4. World Peace. Seriously. I'm not going for Miss America over here or anything. I truly want the war in Iraq to end and I want presidential candidates NOT to say things like Guiliani said in his concession speech---"brute strength is the way to peace."

5. For our country to elect our first woman president or our first African-American president. What a wonderful moment that will be!

p.s. I'm posting over at Life On 20 Weight Watchers Points A Day and it's consuming a lot of my thoughts and energy these days. Check out my posts here, here and here.

Where's the Outrage?


I'm just a little confused over here.

Call me naive about the political process. Remind me that I don't read the paper as much as I used to, and remind me that it's been about, oh, 25 (ahem) years since I took a Civics class.

Go ahead.

But I'm just a little confused.

Where is the outrage? Am I the only one in the universe who's peeved that Hillary can sweep Florida and the pundits act like nothing has happened? That they can actually say afterwards that it, excuse me, didn't count?

That she can literally earn nearly 50% of the democratic primary vote and it doesn't matter?

We've got people saying things like this---

"...some Obama supporters denounced Mrs. Clinton’s act [arriving in Florida after the polls had closed to thank voters for their support] as cynical and urged voters and journalists to dismiss Florida as a meaningless beauty contest" (NY Times online Jan 30, 2008).

A meaningless beauty contest?!?!

“The bottom line is that Florida does not offer any delegates,” said Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic nominee for president. “It is not a legitimate race” (NY Times online Jan 30, 2008).

Fellow democrats are doing this to her? Fellow democrats are doing this to the voters of the state of Florida?

Oh sure. I get it. Florida, and Michigan incidentally, decided to hold their primaries a bit too early for the likes of the Democratic Party. So the thoughtful, ethical, democratic-process-minded folks over there said, "Fine. I won't play with you for the rest of my life."

Oops. I think I'm confusing them with my 7 year old.

What they really said was "Fine. Hold your primary early. We'll just make it so your delegates don't get a say in who gets to be placed on the general election ballots. We just won't let your delegates vote for a democratic nominee. We'll just make it so that the votes of the people of the entire State of Florida do not matter."

Once again, the people of the state of Florida have spoken. And there ain't nobody listenin'.

Where the hell is the outrage?

p.s. I'm also posting over at Life On 20 Weight Watchers Points A Day. Check it out!

And The Winner Is....


Lisa! from Life With Our Little Ladies.

Lisa will be the lucky recipient of my very first giveaway prize----an American Girl book titled, Meet Kirsten, a wonderful introduction to the American Girl historical characters.

Congratulations, Lisa! Send me an email with your address and I'll mail it off to you!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my first giveaway!

The Sleep-Over


I have figured out something kid-related that I am truly good at....The Sleep-Over.I'm not talking about slumber parties---the events with 6-10 girls and a high expectation that the night will be awesome. Although I might be good at those, I haven't tried them yet.No. I'm just talking about your average sleep-over. The one where, like tonight, your girlfriend and her hubby wanted a night out and you volunteered to take her kids overnight. Her kids and your kids are friends. It's a win/win.I know so many people who stress about this type of "playdate." They cannot get the kids to bed, their houses are trashed, they end up losing their tempers or the kids have major meltdowns and everyone is exhausted in the end. Well, that's just not the case over here.I rock the sleep-over.Yep, that's right. I'm even blogging about it while its happening.Here's what you do.(1) Pick a Friday night. They're already tired from school and possibly even extra-curricular activities. Like today, mine had ballet and hers had gymnastics. You can't beat a Friday night. If you can't do a Friday, then take them to the park as soon as you get them on a Saturday. Let them burn some serious energy.(2) Feed them. Feed them immediately so that there's no low blood sugar related stress events. Feed them something totally easy for you, yummy for them, and still relatively healthy with little to no sugar. For example, tonight I fed my crew of four frozen pizza, edamame, frozen mixed veggies, and sliced pear. No fuss. No muss.(3) Drink a glass of wine. No more, no less. More would make you tired, or worse give you a bit of a buzz which just isn't any good with a group of kids. One is perfect. Just enough to take the edge off.(4) Bathe them. They love it and it keeps them contained for at least an hour. If you have four, like I have tonight, put two in each of two tubs. It works wonders.(5) Watch a movie. I know this is standard-issue sleep-over fare, but usually it's done incorrectly. You can't wait until everyone is melting down and over-tired to turn on the movie. Instead, you get everyone nice and snugly feeling after their bath, and you do it close to their normal bedtime. Have them put on some pjs and snuggle up for a movie. Pop some popcorn or eat another relatively healthy snack, and enjoy. Drink water or milk only, please. Oh, and don't expect the movie to put them to sleep. It won't. Read on.(6) Snuggle them into bed. Don't follow the standard advice on splitting them up if they talk or goof off. Absolutely not. Instead, line all four sleeping bags up in a row, and let them each pick a book. Read said books in order of youngest to oldest (no one can argue with that) and then turn out the lights. Sit with them in the dark until they are asleep. It should take no longer than 15 minutes, what with all the excitement of the day and all. Once they are asleep, then you leave the room, not before. I'm telling you, this method works.(7) Most importantly, don't try to accomplish anything. Don't even read the paper, and certainly do not try to blog about it while it's happening (but I'm so hot I can do that, heh heh). This is not a night for getting the laundry done, reading a good book, or doing your online banking. This is a night to take care of the kiddos and keep things running smoothly.(8) Oh and finally, do not sit down. Not until they are all completely asleep. It will just make you tired. I'm very good at this part. Besides, you need to clean as you go. That's right. It's part of the not-[...]

My First Giveaway


(image) With all of the awesome stuff being given away in the blogosphere, this is almost embarrassing. But since it's my first one, please go easy on me! (i.e. send lots of comments and well-wishes!)

As some of you know, my girls are just entering into the American Girl obsession phase. Fortunately, they love, love, love the books, not just the dolls. I bought Meet Kirsten for O before Christmas and meant to give it to her as a gift. We were bombarded with gifts on Christmas Day in Chicago, so I held it back intending to give it to her at a later date when she might better appreciate it. The day after Christmas we headed to the American Girl store where O picked out the doll, Kirsten, who comes with the book Meet Kirsten.

Of course, I have no idea where the receipt is and why would I want to bother returning a book that's only $6.95 in the first place? Oh, and wouldn't it be so much more fun to go to the post office and mail it to some lucky blogger?!?!

C'mon. It's time to introduce your child to Kirsten Larsen, the sweet girl from Sweden who immigrates to America and lives in Minnesota. You know you want it. C'mon!

I'll put the names of those who comment in a hat and give the book away to the lucky blogger who's name I pull from the hat!



So my girls and I occasionally watch HGTV. You know, the Home and Garden channel. But the thing is, I'm still pretty restrictive with them with TV and so whenever a commercial comes on that I don't want them to see, like the dang diet commericals, I mute it. I think I'm so clever. I think I've shielded my girls from our diet-obsessed culture, that they don't know what they're missing when I hit the mute button.


Apparently, I don't catch everything. Sometimes, for example, I'm up from the couch checking my blog comments and haven't made it back to the TV to catch the inappropriate commercials.

Like today. We're watching Amazing Waterfront Properties and that dang Nutrisystem commercial comes on like every other minute. I mute and then I mute again. But then I slack off a bit. Get comfortable. I get up and come to the computer and J comes running over to me--keep in mind that she's five--she says urgently, "Mom! That losing weight commercial is on again!!" Like, "Quick! Get up and mute it!" Not that the muting works. Obviously. She's gotten the message anyway. Lose weight. Lose weight quickly. It's the Most Important Thing in the Universe.


The Defensive Driving Course


Okay, so did I tell you that I had an accident? I did. I backed right into a guy and smashed the crap out of his very old Ford Escort.It was pretty comical really, in an awful sort of way. Here's the story. I tried calling my friend, let's just call her J. I tried calling her like five times, and let's just say she likes to screen me. Supposedly, another friend of hers was in crisis and she was on the phone with her and she planned to call me back asap. Really, she promised. (Just kidding, J.)Anyhooooo.....finally I saw her. She was leaving our children's school just as I was arriving. I rolled down my window to wave at her and since she was on the phone (still!) she didn't see me until she was just about past my car. She stopped, but not until she was just slightly past me. I very absentmindedly decided to stop, throw it into reverse, and back up to bring my car even with hers.Ooops. There was this little car behind me that I didn't even see. Honestly, when I heard the crunch I thought I had hit a trash can on the side of the road or something. It never even occurred to me that someone was behind me! I mean, the gall, someone having the audacity to be behind me when I needed to back up to talk to a friend! Sheesh.Well, his car was definitely totalled. I mean the thing probably was worth about $600 and the damage was far more than that. My bumper fell off, but that's about it. I felt horrible for the guy though. He seemed young and he didn't seem to have a lot of money. I'm sure it was a definite hardship for him to be late for work and car-less.I was nervous and quite shaken. It was my first accident as a real adult. The only other crash I had ever been in was when I was 18--driving my parents' car and still on my parents' insurance. They took care of all the details, of course, including making me commute from college every Saturday morning for over a year to clean their house to pay them back for the damages. They literally fired the cleaning lady so I could take over her job.In any case, this time, I was supposed to know what to do but I didn't, so I just did exactly what it told me to do on the back of the insurance card. It took forever for the police officer to come and when he finally did, he wrote me the ticket. Duh. Guess you can't get more guilty than I was. The poor guy was just driving along and was probably going only about 20 miles an hour, when I just backed right up and smashed his car to smithereens.So later, I'm reading over my options and I realize that one of the options I have is to attend Defensive Driving School and get the ticket removed from my record. That sounded like a sweet deal to me, so yesterday, that's just what I did.I hired a sitter to watch the kids while I was gone. Then I woke up at the crack of dawn, and sat in a room with 60 other traffic law violators.It was actually kind of fun. And interesting. The guy who taught it was totally Bill Cosby. He was pretty darn funny. Plus, the other violators were an interesting mix of citizens. There was a 65+ year old grandmother sitting behind me knitting. She even brought her own cocoa in a thermos and her own mug. When she was done drinking it, she put it all--spoon, dirty cup and all--into a ziploc. Then there was the 50+ something New Yorker lady who complained about how if she were back in NY, she'd have been walking to work and would have never gotten a ticket. There was the assortment of young punks, dressed in baggy cl[...]

My Chicago Blogger Friend


Jenny From Chicago, over at Chased By Children, is having a contest. She's asking people to name her giveaway series which will begin in February and last for 5 days. She's judging the entries on how clever you are and how well you know her blog.

My suggestion: Giveaways From Your Favorite Stepford Geisha Who Defends the Martini

She'll send the winner a $100 Target gift card. Get on over there and make a suggestion! Thanks.